For the past 10 years, the department has hosted ENT Update programs for area physicians, designed to acquaint them about new and growing programs offered at the university. Physicians are encouraged to ask questions about the specialized expertise these programs offer, and are reassured that their patients remain their patients.
Explore This IssueApril 2009
Nor does the emphasis on fostering referrals relationships end with community physicians. Within the institution, University ENT partners with other related specialties, such as neurosurgery and endocrinology. For instance, Dr. Pensak noted, the department’s thyroid/parathyroid surgeon, David Steward, MD, is well known as a teacher and educator in the endocrine community.
Educational outreach to allied health care providers and paraprofessionals comprises another fruitful referral source. University ENT conducts seminars for hearing aid dealers in the Cincinnati tristate area, which includes Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Once familiar with the university practice, the dealers refer patients who might need surgical intervention. The practice then sends patients back to the hearing aid supplier for their devices, so each is careful not to tread on the other’s turf.
Practice physicians frequently present at national specialty society meetings; speak at local medical society meetings; and interact with patient support and advocacy groups, such as the Lost Chord Club and the Acoustic Neuroma Association, at the local and regional levels. All these efforts combine to raise awareness of the clinic’s areas of expertise.
Ramping Up Visibility
Cultivating contacts with local print, radio, and television outlets can be an invaluable additional asset, said Ms. Keith. The practice can pitch story ideas to the university public relations department, or hire its own marketing specialist to make the pitch directly to the media. Physicians can be alert to topics relating to national news, or may suggest a human interest story about a successful new treatment.
One particularly successful story for University ENT was the situation of Father Gene Wilson, a retired Catholic priest who had moved to Ohio to start a Spanish-speaking ministry, who was referred to the practice with vocal cord paralysis. Following treatment under the direction of otolaryngologist Sid Khosla, MD, Father Wilson’s voice was restored, and he was able to resume his duties as a priest. The story first broke in May 2008 and not only resulted in local and national coverage, but also generated a flood of calls to the practice.
The advantage of media coverage, noted Ms. Keith, is that it is free, and assignment editors and producers are always in need of good stories. Although she encountered some reluctance from the practice’s physicians at first (they had never appeared on camera before), they now see the benefit of such a strategy. Ms. Keith also instituted a physician luncheon program, when practice doctors meet with other physicians in the community over lunch to educate local physicians about practice programs, foster good physician relations, and generate referrals.